Monday, February 12, 2007

Glow Little Glow Worm

My friend Anina is on this kick of wanting to get out and do things. Which I can't be opposed to. So this past weekend she suggested we take a trip down to Waitomo (about 2-2.5 hours south of Auckland) to check out the glowworm caves. Even though I will be going there next week with the family, I thought it would be worthwhile to test out the activities before their arrival. (For anyone searching for stuff to do in Waitomo, I highly recommend the Raft, Rap n Rock company).

The caves don't exactly stick out from the rest of the landscape. We drove down this windy dirt road in the middle of nowhere and the driver parked the van at a dead end. Either we were about to see something really cool, or be the subjects of a new horror movie. Fortunately, it was the former, but only if we learned to abseil properly. Here I am practicing on some rope tied to a fence.

Abseiling was pretty much the only option for getting into the cave, 27 metres down.

There are underground rivers and streams and whatnot that take you through a series of awesome caves. This is perfect for what they call "black water rafting", basically floating around on an inner tube in pitch black caves. There are no rapids, unfortunately, but I think going over rapids in pure darkness might be too much for me. As you can tell, I was pretty busy running into rocks as it was.
I guess to say that it was pitch black is not really accurate because the cave was lit up by millions of little glowworms. Despite being really amazing, they're actually just maggots with excrement that happens to have wierd chemicals in it. Here are some of their little webs they use to catch flies.
Here is perhaps my favorite picture that I've gotten from the past year of travelling. Click on it to open it up and get the full effect. Pretty sweet, eh?

Also in our journey underground, we got to pretend that we were real-life spelunkers. There were all these little crags in the walls that I would never have noticed and the guide would just point to it and tell us to squeeze through.

Getting into and running around the cave was the easy part. The only return trip to dry land was to rock climb back up the 27 metres. It was not as difficult as I expected, but I was still cursing myself that I had not taken up Anina's invitation to go to the rock cimbing gym the week before (especially as I watched her scramble up the cliff with no problem).

Overall, a highly action-packed day. Mom and Dad--think you'll be up for it?


esl said...

I can't wait to come visit!!!

teana said...

ooh, those are some snazzy outfits you got there. lol. that actually looks really cool, especially that last group shot. i'm so jealous.

Adrian C. said...

Maybe I watch too many movies, but I am not going under ground with the glow worms. Something might try and eat me...

Linda said...

Yes, I am up for that Geetha. Just as long as I am not too terribly jet lagged to see the crags pointing out at me.